Creating Cross Platform Windows and Mac Installer CDs

Officially Apple does not support autoplay CDs. However you may be able to create a hybrid CD image that will serve your purpose.

Option One

Gather all your files to burn the CD into one folder.

  • Note: Place the image file that you are using as the background image in the folder as well. I am not sure if it matters where it is, I am assuming that the finder searches the folders to look for the image and finds it.

Launch Toast.

  • Choose a MAC only data CD
  • Choose the check mark next to Auto-open disc window
  • Choose [More] button
  • Give the CD a name and change the icon if desired at this time.
  • Choose icon view as the Disc view
  • Choose Picture as the background choice
  • Navigate to the image you wish to use (it should be in the data that you gathered to place on the CD that I mentioned at the beginning.)
  • Choose [OK] button
  • Drag all the files that you wish to be on the Mac portion of the CD on to the main window of Toast.
  • Create a disc image of this CD to the desktop.

You should now have a file on your on your desktop named: yourdiscname.toast

  • Double click the disc image you just created or choose File/Open with Toast.
  • Toast should now show the Image File.
  • Choose [Mount]

Now you should get a new Finder window that opens up with the content you wanted for the Mac. Also notice that there is no Sidebar for this window! :) But the window probably does not appear as you want it to so here is your chance to make it look pretty…

  • Adjust the window size to the graphic you wanted in the background.
  • Move the files to where you want them to appear.
  • Right click on the window and choose [show view options] to get more ways to customize.

*Note: Be sure you select for this window only before you make changes otherwise with will effect all your finder windows. You can change your icon size, text size, label position, as well as how the images are arranged. For my project I just moved the files to where I wanted them to look good with me background image. I also made the window fit so that there are no scroll bars.

  • Position the finder window where you want it to appear. This will be where the window will open when the CD is inserted. I suggest the upper left corner. I tried to put it in the center of my screen, but when testing the final disc noticed that the window was off the side on smaller screens.
  • Choose [Unmount]
  • Choose [Mount]

This is how it will appear. Pretty cool, huh? [Image Missing]

OK almost done…

  • Go back to Toast
  • Choose Data and Custom Hybrid and the disc type.
  • Choose [Select Mac…]
  • Navigate to the Mac Volume you just mounted.
  • Un-check optimization-on-the-fly

Now for the PC partition…

  • Choose [Select ISO…]
  • Choose [New CD]
  • Double Click “My Disc” and give it a new name.
  • Choose [Add…]
  • Navigate to all the files you wish to include for the PC portion of the disc.

*Note: I chose the same files that I used for the Mac partition except that I added two new files. I created a autorun.inf file which is a just a simple text file:

CODE [autorun] open=ShellExe.exe Exhibitor_Kit.html

I also added a ShellExe.exe file and placed these at the root of the cd. The autorun file tells the ShellExe file to run the file that I want to launch as the disk in placed in a PC. In my case it was an HTML file. You can go here to download the .inf and .exe the files that I used, use at your own risk as they are not my creations.

  • Choose [Done] when you have added all your files.
  • Choose [Burn]

*Note: You can also save this off as a disc image to burn future discs.

Option Two

I'm working on an Adobe AIR cross-platform app at work. We're providing a physical CD for distributing the application and I wanted the CD to work like a real Mac CD should look like – Background image in the finder, hide all extraneous files, auto-open the finder window when the CD is inserted, etc.Getting just this to happen requires some trickery, and getting it to happen while also putting an auto-launching Windows installer on the same disc proved to be even more of a game. After a lot of googling I think I've got a pretty good process down and wanted to share, so here are the details.

Core Concepts

The standard ISO CD filesystem doesn't let you do all the good stuff that you'll want to do for Mac (finder background image, hiding files, etc). You need to use some variant of HFS. However, Windows can't read HFS.- 'Hybrid CDs' solve the previous problem. From what I understand, a hybrid CD contains an HFS volume and a standard ISO volume. Windows machines can't see the HFS volume and OS X machines ignore the ISO volume when there is an HFS volume present. - You'll need the OS X Developer tools for these steps- From what I understand, Roxio Toast 7 & above make this much easier, but this is more fun and it's free. :)- It is much easier to test all this out in Windows if you have Parallels (or presumably Fusion) because Parallels let's you mount an iso in Windows as if it were a CD, so you don't have to waste your precious blank CDs creating actual copies. :)


  1. Create a standard folder on your harddrive and put all the install files (windows and mac, including an autorun.inf for your Windows installer, presumably) in it. We'll call it 'install folder' for now.
  2. Make a user-friendly finder window To make a nice OS X finder window for a CD (or dmg or whatever) we want to have a friendly background image that helps the user understand what they're supposed to do. Go grab AdiumX to see an example of what I mean. We have to include this image on the CD, but we also want to hide it from the end user so that it doesn't clutter up our install window. Here are the steps:
    • Create your background image.
    • Create a folder called 'background' inside 'install folder'.
    • Put your background image into this folder.
    • Use terminal to rename this folder to '.background'. e.g.:mv background .background(The folder should then disappear from view in the Finder)
    • Open 'install folder' in the Finder and hit Command+J. Make sure that 'This window only' is selected. Click 'Picture' for the background. In the dialog that comes up, hit command+shift+g to bring up a box where you should enter the path to your '.background' folder. This allows us to navigate there even though it is hidden. Select your background image and click OK.
    • Click 'Picture' again for the background. For some reason it gets reset after selecting the picture.
    • For each file that you'd like hidden in both windows & mac (e.g. perhaps the window autorun file), run this command in Terminal: /Developer/Tools/SetFile -a V /path/to/your/folder/name-of-file-to-hide3. Get rid of the finder toolbar (click that top-right oval button) and resize your window & arrange your icons, leaving the windows icons clumped together somewhere for now (we'll hide them in a minute)
  3. Create the hybrid ISO using hdiutilRun this command in Terminal to turn your folder into a hybrid ISO: hdiutil makehybrid /source/folder/name/ -o outputfile.iso
  4. Mount the ISO in read-write mode:Run this in terminal: hdiutil attach -readwrite outputfile.iso
  5. Make files invisible to Mac ONLY (e.g., your windows installer file) by setting the invisible bit on them:Again in terminal: /Developer/Tools/SetFile -a V /path/to/your/folder/name-of-file-to-hide
  6. Make the finder window auto-open when the cd is inserted/image is mounted:In Terminal: sudo bless -folder “/Volumes/discName” -openfolder “/Volumes/discName”
  7. Test it out. Mount your ISO and unmount it a couple times to see the wonderous installer. If you have Parallels you can try it out in Windows too by using 'Connect Image' to simulate it as a CD in Windows
  8. Open Disk Utility & drag your iso file into the left-hand pane. Click 'Burn' in the toolbar above. Insert a blank CD and let it burn.
  9. Done! Try inserting it into a Mac and a Windows machine and be amazed by the beauty of it all.
Last modified:: 2016/03/19 16:03